Only one hour

It breaks my heart that we only dedicate one hour per year to caring about energy consumption and light pollution. Silly gestures like this only serve to make us feel better about ourselves, a distraction from the realization that we are destroying this planet with our very presence.

The world is supposed to look like this at night:

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Final Review of Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR

I shot some comparison shots, to be the final part of my evaluation of my 16-35. I’m keeping it, and the 14-24 is up for sale.

I shot these shots all from the same spot, on the same tripod, using the same D700 body with the same settings (auto WB, Aperture Priority, 0 Exposure Compensation). All images received the same Lightroom sharpening settings of 35 sharpening, 15 detail, 90 masking. All comparison shots are 100% zoom comparisons produced as screenshots of Lightroom.

You can click the images for the full-size versions. Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to show what I’m seeing, which seems to be in stark contrast to what others think of the 16-35.

This is the overall scene that all the test shots are based on:

16-35 vs. 14-24 shot at 16mm f/4:

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16-35 vs. 14-24 shot at 16mm f/11:

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16-35 vs. 14-24 shot at 20mm f/4:

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16-35 vs. 14-24 shot at 20mm f/16:

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16-35 vs. 14-24 shot at 24mm f/4:

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16-35 vs. 24-70 shot at 24mm f/4:

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16-35 vs. 14-24 shot at 24mm f/11:

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16-35 vs. 24-70 shot at 24mm f/11:

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16-35 vs. 24-70 shot at 28mm f/4:

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16-35 vs.
24-70 shot at 28mm f/11:

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16-35 vs. 24-70 shot at 35mm f/4:

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16-35 vs. 24-70 shot at 35mm f/11:

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Conclusion:

The 16-35 has some light falloff in the corners when shooting wide open, but not much. The 16-35 is soft in the corners when shooting wide open, but not much. It does have some barrel distortion, more that either the 14-24 or 24-70.

The 16-35 is consistently as sharp if not sharper than both the 14-24 and 24-70 when shooting @ f/8, f/11, and f/16. In some cases, it is sharper in the corners @ f/4 than the 14-24, which is surprising because the 14-24 is stopped down by 1 f-stop and should have sharper corners than if it were wide open.

The 14-24 seems to consistently over-expose a bit, at least by comparison.

I shot a 17-35/2.8 for a bit. I found it to be in the same league as the 24-70 in image quality, weight, and cost. The 16-35 is cheaper and lighter than the 17-35 and image quality is at least as good, so I can’t see buying a 17-35 over a 16-35. If you’ve already got the 17-35, I don’t know if you’d have a reason to switch, unless you think you need VR (I don’t think you do).

In the real world, all are excellent, and no one should feel bad about choosing any of these excellent wide-angle zooms. For me, for landscape shooting, the 14-24 is the worst choice due to a lack of usable filters (there are exceptions, but not many). For other uses, such as night/concert/indoor shooting or architecture, the 14-24 might suit you better. Given the lower cost and weight of the 16-35, it seems to me Nikon has a new “holy trinity” of 16-35, 24-70, 70-200 v2.

P.S. A local pro, about 30 miles from me, also finds this lens to be awesome. Other reviews are whole-heartedly unimpressed by this lens. Could there be a sample variation problem? Tough to say. All I can say is you should seriously consider this lens before paying more for one of the 2.8 lenses.

Moab to Denver at 28 mph

Monday, March 8th, was to be the culmination of a wonderful 3-day photography weekend.

 

My buddy Todd and I were having a great time. We got wonderful images on Saturday but were plagued by clouds and rain showers on Sunday. Monday, weather permitting, would be great.

 

It didn’t turn out quite the way we hoped.

The Plan:
    • Be in place 1/2 hour before sunrise, to shoot an arch through an arch in Arches NP
  • Leave Utah and head to Colorado National Monument to shoot some formations we missed earlier
  • Lunch in Grand Junction
  • I-70 to Denver, home by dinner time

 

How the day unfolded:

    • 4:45 a.m. Alarm clock rings. Weather is rainy, decide on 1 hour more sleep and skip Arches NP
  • 6:00 a.m. Head out for CNM in the rain & snow
  • 7:30 a.m. Driving around CNM in the snow, hoping for one of those low cloud kind of “fading into the fog” kind of moody landscape shots. Snow got heavy, visibility got rather bad, nothing to shoot.
  • 7:45 a.m. Road sign says I-70 closed. Rut-roh Shaggy, time for plan B.
  • 8:00 a.m. Breakfast at Village Inn, decide on a route of US 50 to US 285 over Kenosha Pass into Denver. Should add about 1 & 1/2 hour to the journey, but should be scenic.
  • 12:00 p.m. Monarch Pass is really ugly and slick, cars spinning out and getting stuck, carnage everywhere. They closed it right behind us.
  • 2:05 p.m. Poncha Springs. Snacks rang up to $6.66 – an ominous sign, little did we know it signaled another 5+ hours to get home.
  • 2:10 p.m. Check weather reports on iPhone. Kenosha snowed out, decide to take US 24 into Colorado Springs, then up I-25 into Denver.
  • Saw numerous herds of springbucks / antelope along US 24. Used to see them all the time along US 285 in South Park, but haven’t seen them for years. I guess they migrated a bit east.
  • 4:30 p.m. In Colorado Springs. Road signs show I-25 closed. No idea what to do next.
  • 5:00 p.m. Maps on iPhone (with traffic overlay) indicate a route along CO Hwy 83 that will get us around the I-25 hazard. Small roads, heavy traffic, very frustrating but still getting closer to home.
  • 5:45 p.m. Sunset. Can’t believe we’re seeing the sun set when we’ve been in the car since before sunrise. Having a hard time trying not to scream.
  • 7:30 p.m. Arrive home 13.5 hrs after leaving Moab.

 

Moral of the story: Even in the 21st century, travel requires patience and resourcefulness. And someone to laugh about it with. Life is about the journey, not the destination. Why not make it an adventure?

Trying to follow through on inspiration

I’m heading out to Moab this weekend. After a week of warm sunny days, the forecast calls for snow and rain. Should be awesome. (If I say that often enough, I might start to believe it.)

I’m bringing with me some inspiration. First, some awesome info on controlling contrast.

 

 

 

  • On the off chance that I get a clear night sky where I won’t freeze to death taking 1 photo, I’ll be trying some night astro-photography based on the advice of Ali Benn.

 

 

 

 

I’ve got 3 days of shooting, probably in less-than-ideal conditions. I may not have enough time to practice all of this advice and inspiration, but I intend to try.

What do you do when inspiration hits you?  Do you let it slip away because you’re too busy? Probably an all-too-common answer. Do you immediately rush out and try what you just heard or read? You’re lucky if you can. I make a note in my iPhone, in an email to myself, or in Evernote, because I usually can’t try every great tip at the time I hear/read it.

Whatever you do, don’t let inspiration pass you by. Carpe Diem!